Learning and Development Strategy


Learning and development strategies ensure that the organization has the

talented and skilled people it needs and that individuals are given the

opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills and levels of competence.

They are the active components of an overall approach to strategic

human resources development (strategic HRD), as described below.

Learning strategies are concerned with developing a learning culture,

promoting organizational learning, establishing a learning organization

and providing for individual learning, as also described in this chapter.


Strategic HRD is defined by Walton (1999) as follows: ‘Strategic human

resource development involves introducing, eliminating, modifying,

directing, and guiding processes in such a way that all individuals and

teams are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competences they

require to undertake current and future tasks required by the organization.’

As described by Harrison (2000), strategic HRD is ‘development that

arises from a clear vision about people’s abilities and potential and operates

within the overall strategic framework of the business’. Strategic HRD takes

a broad and long-term view about how HRD policies and practices can

support the achievement of business strategies. It is business led, and the

learning and development strategies that are established as part of the

overall strategic human resource development approach flow from

business strategies, although they have a positive role in helping to ensure

that the business attains its goals.

Strategic HRD aims

Strategic HRD aims to produce a coherent and comprehensive framework for

developing people through the creation of a learning culture and the formulation

of organizational and individual learning strategies. Its objective is to

enhance resource capability in accordance with the belief that a firm’s human

resources are a major source of competitive advantage. It is therefore about

developing the intellectual capital required by the organization as well as

ensuring that the right quality of people are available to meet present and

future needs. The main thrust of strategic HRD is to provide an environment

in which people are encouraged to learn and develop. Although it is business

led, its specific strategies have to take into account individual aspirations and

needs. The importance of increasing employability outside as well as within

the organization should be one of the concerns of strategic HRD.

Strategic HRD policies are closely associated with that aspect of strategic

HRM that is concerned with investing in people and developing the organization’s

human capital. As Keep (1989) says:

One of the primary objectives of HRM is the creation of conditions whereby

the latent potential of employees will be realized and their commitment to the

causes of the organization secured. This latent potential is taken to include, not

merely the capacity to acquire and utilize new skills and knowledge, but also a

hitherto untapped wealth of ideas about how the organization’s operations

might be better ordered.

Human resource development philosophy

The philosophy underpinning strategic HRD is as follows:

l Human resource development makes a major contribution to the

successful attainment of the organization’s objectives, and investment in

it benefits all the stakeholders of the organization.

l Human resource development plans and programmes should be integrated

with and support the achievement of business and human

resource strategies.

Human resource development should always be performance related –

designed to achieve specified improvements in corporate, functional,

team and individual performance and make a major contribution to

bottom-line results.

l Everyone in the organization should be encouraged and given the

opportunity to learn – to develop their skills and knowledge to the

maximum of their capacity.

l The framework for individual learning is provided by personal development

plans that focus on self-managed learning and are supported by

coaching, mentoring and formal training.

l The organization needs to invest in learning and development by

providing appropriate learning opportunities and facilities, but the

prime responsibility for learning and development rests with individuals,

who will be given the guidance and support of their managers

and, as necessary, members of the HR department.

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